Remember Job? He is described this way, “There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.” [Job 1:1 NLT] That would seem to be a tag many followers of Jesus would like to have. The trouble is, it made him a lightning rod. You know, the kind that draws unwanted attention.
When Satan appears before God to report his activities, God points out Job. “Then the LORD asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” [Job 1:8 NLT] What follows becomes a nightmare, wrapped in a horror movie, packaged in a worst-case scenario for Job. His children are killed, his business collapses, and he is struck with painful boils from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet.
One inconvenient story happens during Jesus’ life. We read, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” [Luke 22:31 ESV] Yikes. Imagine Peter finding out that a target was put on his back and that Satan had zeroed in on him. The reality was that Peter would fail. Jesus requested that his FAITH would NOT fail. Having returned (implying restoration), Peter would strengthen others. Peter would always carry the embarrassing stigma of someone who denied Jesus. Peter would also be a walking reminder that failure is not permanent when FAITH does not fail.
The thing we do not want to admit is Satan’s ability to “demand” a trial. Another way to read that is, “Satan has asserted the right to sift you like wheat.” [CEB] For some reason, this demand (the ability to assert the right) seems to escape us in our English versions. The comforting thing is that Jesus interceded for Peter. Or as John observed, “My little children, I’m writing these things to you so that you don’t sin. But if you do sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one.” [1 John 2:1 CEB] The comforting thing is that Jesus intercedes for you if (or when) you do fail. However, your FAITH does not have to fail when you do.
In one of Jesus’s parables, He states, “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’” [Luke 12:20 ESV] This is known as a “gloss.” Who is requiring the man’s soul? The impression is the man would die that night. However, the Greek specifically states “This night THEY require…” Who is “they?”
If you are covered by God’s grace and cleansed by the blood of Jesus, you have an advocate that stands between you and justice. Pity the fool that gets what they deserve because they have no advocate when the accuser (see Revelation 12:10a) attacks.